This is lesson 6 in the Crashed Culture Spanish Grammar Series.
Ser y Estar ejercicios
We all need some ser y estar ejercicios because the difference between ser and estar is the bane of tons of Spanish language learners out there. In English, we don’t have two different verbs for ‘to be’, so it takes some practice to train our brains to differentiate between the two of them.
Tons of language learners get all the way to the intermediate and advanced levels of Spanish without having a good grasp on ser and estar, even though it’s a beginner skill! So, let’s start this off right.
First things first, let’s take a look at how each of these verbs look when they’re conjugated. Once we get that down, we can talk about when to use each of them.
Conjugación del verbo ser
Conjugación del verbo estar
I know these can look overwhelming. If you need to stop here and get these into your brain, do it. In fact, I’ve got some flashcards meant just for you!
Diferencia entre ser y estar
If you already feel comfortable with the conjugations themselves, let’s move on to la diferencia entre ser y estar (the difference between ser and estar).
Generally speaking, we use estar when talking about something temporary, and ser when talking about something permanent. So let’s take a look at some examples so you know what I’m talking about.
Ustedes son ingenieras (You are engineers)
Hoy es lunes (Today is Monday)
Nosotras somos de Perú (We are from Peru)
Tú eres mi prima (You are my cousin)
Yo soy alto (I am tall)
Este es mi vestido (That is my dress)
Yo estoy en el parque (I am in the park)
Él está enojado (He is angry)
La tienda está limpia (The store is clean)
Tú estás caminando (You are walking)
Like I said, this can be a difficult concept to grasp. If permanent/temporary is a little hard for you, let’s go into a bit more detail.
For purposes of ease of learning, the descriptions below are listed in order of their examples above.
Permanent descriptors (ser)
- Time & date
- Place of origin/nationality
- Essential characteristics/qualities
Temporary situations (estar)
- States & conditions (clean, broken, etc.)
- Current actions
Another reason why all this can be a little tough to grasp is due to the way we non-Spanish speakers think of temporary and permanent, which makes us feel like there are “exceptions”. Yes, there are some exceptions, but some of them aren’t seen as exceptions to natives, though. Let me explain.
Using ser to talk about time/date
Your first thought is probably something along the lines of “yeah, it’s 4:35, for a minute, but then the next minute is 4:36, so time is temporary”. Well, technically, you’re right about that, but it’s not helpful for understanding this concept.
Instead, think of it this way: the concept of time is permanent. It will always be there. No matter when it is, it will always be a time or date. and, therefore, the time and date are permanent, and are described using ser.
Using estar to talk about location
Location is theoretically easy, right? Countries are never going to up and walk to different places, and a house party is only in a house for a night, right? Wellllll…no.
Here’s an actual exception. In Spanish, we take these two concepts and flip them around.
Geographical locations (countries, states, cities, etc.): use estar
Event locations (parties, meetings, etc.): use ser
Why? No reason! Honestly. It’s just something that you need to make note of and use in practice when communicating. Because that’s just what makes learning Spanish fun!
Using estar to talk about life/death
Finally, let’s address life and death. Thinking about it, you might think that life is temporary and death is permanent (let’s not get too morbid here). Fortunately, Spanish makes it easy for us: we use estar to talk about both.
The reasoning here is easy: the belief of reincarnation! If you believe in reincarnation, you believe that death is temporary. See, not too morbid, right?
Ser y estar ejercicios
Now that we’ve hit all the little rules and exceptions and explanations, I think we all need some ser y estar ejercicios.
Ready to move on?
Check out the next lesson: adjectives